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Iowa initiative aims to fight food waste and insecurity

A new gleaning initiative led by the Feeding Iowans Task Force is aiming to provide fresh produce to Iowans in need

Posted: Oct 15, 2020 1:50 AM

MASON CITY, Iowa - Food insecurity is an ongoing problem across the nation, and right here at home.

According to the USDA, although 89.5% of households in the U.S. were food secure last year, there's still that 10.5% gap, about 37 million Americans (including 11 million children), that were food insecure in 2019, meaning these households weren't able to meet the needs of their members because they had insufficient money or other resources for food.

The state of Iowa is looking to change this with the Governor's Taskforce on Feeding Iowans. To accomplish the goal of making sure food is more accessible, ISU Extension and Americorps are partnering to 'glean', by collecting produce from farms, farmers markets, restaurants and institutions, and distributing it through agencies such as food pantries. Cerro Gordo County was selected as one of 8 sites across the state for the initiative.

Gleaning coordinator Corinne Sills says the need can be found not just in urban areas, but in rural areas as well.

"Even in our smaller, outlying cities in Cerro Gordo County. You've got Thornton, Rockwell, Sheffield, places that people aren't coming up to Mason City or Clear Lake to go to farmers markets, or the community kitchen and shelters like that."

In addition, collecting the food and distributing it to those in need would also help cut down on food waste. According to the USDA, nearly 40% of the U.S. food supply, about $161 billion worth, is wasted each year. For an average household, that's about $1,600 per family, or 219 lbs. per person. 

"There's tons and tons of food that gets thrown away at the end of the season, end of the day. Whether it's a grocery store or a restaurant, a lot of things get thrown away."

Sills has had some volunteers from the iJAG program at Mason City High School, as well as her Dad, to deliver produce from the farmers market and deliver it to the shelters in town. She's also looking to do a monthly produce drive with students at the high and junior high schools through the winter months.

"I've contacted a lot of area farmers, and there's a lot of people that have their own garden spaces. I've talked to some of the city administrators of some of the smaller towns around, got some flyers up and trying to focus on making some of those connections."

So far, Sills has collected roughly 25-30 lbs. worth of produce, including potatoes and tomatoes, to give to Northern Lights Alliance for the Homeless shelters in Mason City and the Community Kitchen of North Iowa. 

If you want to contribute, contact Sills at 641-425-9333.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 304023

Reported Deaths: 3580
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin641421113
Ramsey27059502
Anoka21526225
Dakota21268190
Washington13529113
Stearns13524108
St. Louis8433108
Scott820154
Wright746139
Olmsted653534
Sherburne570941
Clay483956
Carver455913
Blue Earth405214
Rice403136
Kandiyohi396821
Crow Wing353431
Nobles304929
Chisago304410
Otter Tail300522
Benton293348
Winona273730
Mower257423
Douglas250735
Polk248923
Morrison228029
Lyon213411
Beltrami211917
McLeod205011
Becker199815
Goodhue196728
Steele19137
Itasca185523
Isanti184917
Todd178413
Carlton177715
Nicollet158725
Freeborn15125
Mille Lacs149931
Le Sueur144911
Cass138610
Waseca137811
Brown136415
Pine13138
Meeker12398
Roseau11454
Hubbard111924
Martin111220
Wabasha10301
Redwood91619
Chippewa8527
Dodge8380
Cottonwood8333
Watonwan8334
Renville83124
Wadena7736
Sibley7724
Rock7569
Aitkin75529
Pipestone71018
Houston6854
Fillmore6770
Yellow Medicine63311
Pennington6277
Kanabec59613
Murray5783
Swift5758
Faribault5422
Pope5281
Stevens5063
Clearwater5058
Jackson4841
Marshall4758
Lake4066
Koochiching3855
Wilkin3715
Unassigned36759
Lac qui Parle3613
Lincoln3511
Norman3417
Big Stone3072
Mahnomen2904
Grant2726
Kittson2138
Red Lake2053
Traverse1461
Lake of the Woods951
Cook660

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 225897

Reported Deaths: 2345
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk33451334
Linn14206164
Scott1116385
Black Hawk10849134
Woodbury10323124
Johnson948636
Dubuque918291
Story677621
Dallas633657
Pottawattamie624570
Sioux369125
Webster357833
Cerro Gordo351544
Marshall347846
Clinton327540
Buena Vista304114
Des Moines287920
Muscatine286468
Warren279611
Plymouth274242
Wapello255071
Jones229813
Jasper217443
Marion204320
Lee202217
Carroll197322
Bremer194212
Henry18227
Crawford174316
Benton169519
Tama153840
Jackson144313
Delaware143221
Washington140214
Dickinson138210
Boone136311
Mahaska126727
Wright12336
Clay11714
Buchanan116410
Hardin115010
Page11294
Clayton11105
Hamilton11059
Cedar107413
Harrison106729
Calhoun10617
Kossuth10566
Floyd104116
Mills10407
Fayette103310
Lyon10268
Butler10116
Poweshiek98913
Winneshiek96212
Iowa94612
Winnebago91723
Hancock8607
Louisa85816
Sac8578
Grundy85611
Chickasaw8494
Cherokee8374
Cass80823
Allamakee79911
Mitchell7884
Appanoose78710
Humboldt7695
Union7676
Shelby76211
Emmet76024
Guthrie75215
Franklin73521
Jefferson7112
Madison6804
Unassigned6620
Palo Alto6514
Keokuk5967
Pocahontas5574
Howard5529
Greene5220
Osceola5211
Ida48713
Clarke4824
Taylor4643
Montgomery46211
Davis4619
Monroe44312
Adair4408
Monona4332
Fremont3573
Van Buren3555
Worth3550
Lucas3236
Decatur3160
Wayne2987
Audubon2952
Ringgold2112
Adams1692
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